A male model stripped naked at a London care home to take part in a life drawing session which elderly residents described as “very relaxing”.
Pensioners at Care UK’s Sherwood Grange in Kingston Vale took part in the art session with the nude model last week.
The aim was to help boost mental health and wellbeing.
Group members sharpened their pencils to create their best artwork of the nude model in the session that participants seemed to love.
Asked what she enjoyed most about the session, resident Mollie Wheeldon said: “It was great fun to do something different – I found it very relaxing."
Another resident, Rosemary Lester, was pictured trying to capture the model, who was standing with one leg propped on a stool, from all angles.
Home manager Kristina Jacunskiene said the unusual activity had been hugely “memorable” for class attendees.
“Life in our care home is all about helping people to enjoy more independent and fulfilling lives – and today that meant doing something out of the ordinary and creating a memorable experience," she said.
“Sadly the session had to draw to a close – but based on the response we had from the residents and the fabulous drawings they created, we will certainly be welcoming more models in the future.”
As well as switching up their day-to-day activities, Shirley Howes, director at NudeLife says life drawing can provide a wealth of benefits for the older generation.
“Plenty has been said in recent years about the mental health of pensioners. Isolation, frailty, and reduced mobility can negatively impact an older person’s mental health, so activities that don’t require much movement but stimulate the mind are excellent," she tells Yahoo UK.
"The relaxing and peaceful activity of life drawing enables the older generation to socialise while engaging their artful side to create something they can be proud of. The trust between the model and artists can empower pensioners by helping them rediscover their love for learning new skills.
Life drawing and similar artistic activities carry plenty of other benefits too, according to Howes.
"Painting helps improve motor skills and keeps the mind sharp," Howes continues.
"The community aspect of life drawing can bring otherwise lonely pensioners together, enjoying their hobby with like-minded individuals.”
The life drawing class came as a further care home celebrated Music Festival Week by encouraging residents to take part in a special initiative which saw them enjoying silent discos, dancing and live performances.
Renaissance Care residents and staff across Scotland donned their glad rags and glitter to get into the festival spirit, with staff pulling out all the stops to give the residents a summer to remember.
From food vans and choirs to glitter and bucket hats – and even an ABBA tribute act – staff pulled out all the stops to give the residents a summer to remember.
An ABBA tribute band performed at one care home, and residents, many of whom have dementia, took in the atmosphere at the festival-themed gardens across the 16 locations.
Music has proven to be an effective tool in boosting mood and memory, especially for those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Commenting on the creative initiative, Yvonne Mackenzie, operations director at Renaissance Care, said: “Music has universal appeal, and we know from experience how much our residents enjoy a bit of a boogie and a song.
"This concept has been another brilliant way to get everyone involved, up and active in whichever way they feel comfortable."
Mackenzie says staff have recently introduced a new dancing platform across the homes for staff and residents to use to stay fit and healthy.
"This has been the perfect complement to its launch which is part of a wider effort to further improve the culture within the business," she added.
“Bucket hats and glow-sticks were in full swing and it was great to see everyone up and having a good time this July.”
Watch: Care home transformed into Buckingham Palace for Queen's jubilee
Benefits of creativity for older generation
While life drawing and festival holding may not be on the schedule of all care homes, there is some evidence that creative activities can have wide-ranging health benefits for the older generation, both physical and mental.
Recent ongoing research looking at singing group programmes, theatre training, and visual arts for older adults suggest that participating in the arts may improve the health, well-being and independence of older adults.
Meanwhile, a further report, commissioned by Creative Ireland, revealed that older adults who participate in creative activities enjoy a higher quality of life and are less likely to be lonely, depressed and stressed compared to peers who do not.
Results found that older adults exhibiting the highest levels of involvement in creative activities reported the highest quality of life, and scored lowest on loneliness, depression, worry and stress measurements.
Commenting on the findings senior data manager at The Irish LongituDinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), and Lead author of the report, Dr Siobhan Scarlett said: "Participation in creativity activities is a positive form of self-expression that not only helps to alleviate stress, or reduce worry and responsibilities, but helps to improve wellbeing in older adults.
She went on to add that the findings show that those who engaged in creative activities were less likely to be lonely, depressed and stressed, and more likely to report better behavioural health patterns.
As well as helping to tackle loneliness, experts say taking part in creative activities can also boost self-esteem, particularly for those who may feel disempowered in later life, due to physical limitations and difficulties associated with their health.
Regularly engaging with a creative activity, then seeing progress and development in skills and the personal satisfaction that brings can have an enormously positive impact on self-esteem.
Of course, getting your creative juices flowing can bring benefits for brain health too.
“The belief that 'exercising' our brains through regularly learning new things like life drawing and mentally stimulating activities like puzzles, games and hobbies makes a lot of sense – if we want our brain to stay in peak condition, we should use it," Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, tells Yahoo UK.
"It’s clear from a number of studies that mentally stimulating activities are associated with better thinking skills in later life but we are still building the picture as to why and how, and what sort of activities lead to real benefit.
"While we can’t say for certain which activities might definitely help keep thinking skills sharp, we do know that doing hobbies and activities that we enjoy is vital for quality of life and wellbeing anyway.”
Additional reporting PA and SWNS.